That Girl Back Home

Hi! Sorry if you were hoping for a Silent Service or a Halloween update. It’s me, Helena. Can we talk?

What do I want to talk about? I want to talk about something that I do pretty often. I really enjoy providing companionship to the boys (and girls), and I think it’s useful to hear why I do it.

First of all, STEC is serious business. How serious? Let me ask you a simple question.

Are you willing to disappear from your old life, where most of your contacts in your old life are completely severed? Imagine your friends from high school, college, the workplace…

Can you imagine never being able to see them again?

Or, better yet, can you imagine yourself interacting with them in the loosest, most superficial manner, just enough to maintain what STEC considers to be operational secrecy, to preserve normalcy? Can you imagine voluntarily giving up pretty much every aspect of your personal autonomy and dedicating yourself to (in some cases literally) saving the world?

Some people can. That’s who we pick up. These people are in two categories, generally. First you have the true loners. Andrea. Tatsuko. People like them are basically savants and have really low needs socially. But the majority of the boys (and I use the term “boys” because believe it or not, it’s mostly the boys of STEC – I guess the ol’ Biblical adage about it’s not good for men to stay alone holds true, huh), Mike, Leon, Ingram, and so on, they do have that desire to be social. To have a “normal life” or to eventually return to the outside world. They’re just stoic enough to be willing to wait for that day, or to put their personal desires aside for the greater good of America and the world.

I bet you if you ask Mike whether or not he misses the days where he could stay up with his companions and to just wax poetic about the affairs of the world, he’d give you a nod. Not that Sanny and Pennsy aren’t decent debaters, but you know, it’s not the same. We can get McD’s and KFC shipped to Avalon base, but it’s not the same as you being able to drive past one and just decide to go in. We can send the boys back to the mainland if they want, say, to watch a football game, but when you have to clear it with Operations beforehand, it’s just not the same.

Mike, for the record, more or less has it easier compared to some of the field agents. Socialization is almost a requirement of his job considering he has to engage with everything from world leaders to unruly shipgirls. But, for the average STEC researcher or field agent, where each is expected to be a one-man army unto themselves in whatever field of expertise they’re meant to exercise their strengths in?

It gets lonely. Very lonely.

You can have the resources of the entire organization at your back, the best doctors and psychiatrists America can offer, and a virtually limitless budget (STEC’s spending, ironically, is very, very low – perhaps it’s got something to do with the psychological profiles of the people it recruits) and you’ll still miss some of the most basic things in life. For some, it might be the quiet billards nights that they miss. For others it might simply be going to your favorite bar back home and flirting a bit with that cute waitress you saw last time. Still for others it’s the simple act of going to a concert with your friends.

Like I said, I provide companionship. I consider it my personal and patriotic duty to help maintain morale in what I believe to be one of the most critical organizations I’ve ever seen. Like the Hostesses of yore, I do my best to make the boys feel at home. Some say I have considerable talent in the feminine arts. laughs They aren’t wrong. I enjoy dressing up, I enjoy being flirtatious, and I enjoy being that mythologized girl-back-home, girl-next-door to these boys very much.

Psst, I’m going to let you in on another little secret, too.

I might have a reputation for being a salacious storyteller, but being “easy” or “fast”? Never.

See, STEC doesn’t draw in a lot of boys. The ones that do get in, however, inevitably tend to share a similar set of core interests and values. Let’s just say they aren’t dictated by their baser instincts, and they’re all very, very proud of that.

Like I said. I’m a companion. I’m someone that accompanies. I make it a personal point to become a reasonable hand in whatever it is that I’m going to be doing, because, believe it or not, that counts a lot more than just the fact that I’m gorgeous.

See, most of the boys just want to go shooting. I mean, no surprise there, right? Shooting is pretty easy. Getting shot at is fairly manageable, too. But over the years I’ve picked up a lot of skills too. You want to spend the afternoon brewing beer? I can get you some hops from back home. Got little pewter boys that you want to give a whirl? I’ll do you one better: I can cast ’em. A trip into the deep woods for some hunting and gathering? I’m game. Fancy something quieter? Well, I’m a quick learner and I’m pretty sure I can pick up your analogue games as soon as you try mine. It’s called the War of the Roses.

All this, and I’m still on top of my game. If I didn’t enjoy it, do you think I’d really try this hard? Showering’s easy. You try having your hair done an hour after a sortie – takes half an hour just to get the salt and brine out.

But to me? It’s worth it. These boys all have another thing in common, too. The moment they signed up they’ve basically handed STEC a check made out to “the USA,” with an indeterminate amount that frequently goes up to and includes “my life.”

I think that’s worth a few hours of extra work, yeah?

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